100-year-old Vancouver photo gives Canada Day comfort to sentimental Brit

A sentimental Englishman is sharing a century-old photo of his mother in Vancouver to spread some Canada Day cheer to Georgia Straight readers.

Frank Carpenter, a resident of West Sussex, sent the above picture in a June 24 email. Accompanying text described the subject of the photo as his mother, Mabel Clark-Jones, at age seven.

The location of the picture, perhaps on a bridge, is not given. It appears that the little girl, Mabel, has won first prize in a merchants parade of some sort on Dominion Day in 1922 (the holiday name changed to Canada Day in 1985).

“Mabel, whose family lived on Victoria Drive at the time, was a student at Laura Secord School,” Carpenter said in the email. “She excelled in ballet and performed at the Orpheum as well as taking business-studies courses before leaving in 1937 for a round-trip holiday to her relatives in England just before WWII.

“While there (in Surrey, England), Mabel met and married my Dad: Cyril Carpenter, in 1939, but due to the war, and later having a child…me…she never returned to Vancouver but always yearned so much to do so.”

Carpenter went on to say that Mabel’s father, his grandfather, was Frank William Clark-Jones, a well-known bike racer at the time who later ran a bike shop somewhere on Broadway.

“It has been my good fortune to have been brought up learning about and loving Vancouver,” Carpenter continued in the email, “and I have been privileged to have visited the city and met my relatives, including the aforementioned bike racer, my late Grandad, a number of times.”

He said that he originally thought the photo was taken by someone with the Sun or Province newspapers of the day but now believes that it was the product of an “entrepreneurial photographer at the event”.

Carpenter ended on a celebretory yet wistful note: “As you know better than I, Vancouver is a wonderful city, in a beautiful location, and in truth I have always felt it to be my second home. It is a city about which I feel very sentimental, and, in a way, that is why I hope that you may wish to publish this ‘pretty picture of a little girl from long ago’.”

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